Mornings for adults can be stressful. Add to that the emotions and energy of a preschooler and you have the recipe for a hectic household. To reduce stress for yourself and your preschool child, think about the sources of stress, some possible solutions, and how you and your child can get off to school and work on positive notes.
Both of You Feel Stress
In attempting to relieve your child of the anxiety of heading off to preschool, do not ignore your own stress. You may give off vibes because of work pressures or having to part from your baby who, at any age, will always be your baby.
The preschool experts at National Association for the Education of Young Children recommend to their preschool teachers that the first fifteen minutes of the day—when children arrive and settle—be all about nurturing. This is also important at home. If the morning routine is a rattled rush to the car, then the message is that schedules, not family, are more important.
Wake your child (or use the alarm clock) and spend a quiet few minutes on love, hugs, and quiet talk. Listen to your child and pause to pick up her or his unspoken signals. This may mean you wake up earlier than your child to attend to your own needs, but cuddle time and nurturing are as vital as breakfast and punctuality.
Reduce Stress Year-Round
The return to a school-year routine, or the start of one for the first time, should not be a jolting change from a previous schedule. The experts at Parenting suggest easing back into the earlier hours of the school year (and preschool year) around two weeks before the big day. This means earlier bedtimes and rising times, so no one feels rushed.
Take a tip from educators everywhere: build a launch pad. As mentioned in Organized Home but also in just about every teacher’s toolbox of tricks, a launch pad is the one place in the house to put everything that needs to go to school or preschool. It can be a toy box, wicker basket, or simply a clear spot by the front door.
Set your pad right next to your children’s, too: you have your car keys, briefcase, purse, dry cleaning pickup slip, and returnable DVDs on your pad. Your preschooler has picture books, field trip form, and that exceptionally interesting rock on her launch pad.
Nights Are Your Base Camp
The night before the morning routine, get as much of the “morning” done as possible. Check all this off in the evening hours:
- Set the alarm clock
- Pick out clothes
- Find the shoes!
- Load up the back pack
- Lay out nonperishable parts of the lunch
Clothes are a challenge (for grownups too!), so if you have a fastidious fashionista, get input the night before and both of you commit to the outfit. Then try these tips:
- Buy for easy dressing with big buttons, elastic waists (no belts)
- Prefer practicality over perfect pairing (She mixed checks and stripes? Let it go!)
- Lay out your child’s clothes (crime scene style on the floor) for quick access
Make A Chart
The writers at A Fine Parent recommend a morning routine chart, so nothing gets skipped or forgotten:
- Comb hair
- Wash face (including ears and neck!)
- Get dressed (including socks!)
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Put shoes on
- Grab backpack and lunchbox
- Let Mom or Dad know you are ready
That last one is important, because it puts a tiny bit of responsibility on your children to think through their needs and wants. If something is forgotten, your child bears a little of that weight, and can learn to be even more responsible.
Make breakfast mostly self-serve by putting out the cereal box, bowls, spoons and cups. Put milk, cheese slices, fruit and yogurt on a lower refrigerator shelf for short arms. Do not worry or feel guilty for not providing a hot breakfast every morning; nutrition is more important than temperature.
Allow For a Quiet Parting
Once at preschool, avoid feeling a compulsion to rush out the door. Admittedly, parents walk a fine line between dawdling and making emotions run high or rushing and making the child feel abandoned. At Kids Konnect we encourage a few minutes at drop-off so the child acts as a guide to the preschool turf. The parents who help settle their children do their own kids, and the Kids Konnect staff, a tremendous favor. This is also a strategy recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Have you come up with sure-fire solutions to stressful mornings? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us at Kids Konnect. Leave a comment below!